The Two Types of Conscientious Objector

The Armed Forces of the United States of America (USA) place conscientious objectors into two categories:

  1. Class 1-O; and
  2. Class 1-A-O.

Conscientious Objector Class 1-O

A member who, by reason of conscientious objection, sincerely objects to participation in military service of any kind in war in any form.

Conscientious Objector Class 1-A-O

A member who, by reason of conscientious objection, sincerely objects to participation as a combatant in war in any form, but whose convictions are such as to permit military service in a noncombatant status. Also referred to as noncombatant duties or noncombatant service.

Separation or Other Assignment

As a general rule Class 1-O will be separated (aka leave service) whilst Class 1-A-O can request assignment to non-combatant duties.

Those requesting assignment to non-combatant duties must detail what benefit their continued service would be to the military.

Clear and Convincing Evidence of Conscientious Objection

The burden of establishing conscientious objection as grounds for separation or assignment to non-combatant training and service lies with the individual.

The individual must establish by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The nature or basis of the claim falls under the definition of conscientious objections described in the relevant publication;
  • The individual’s belief is honest, sincere, and deeply held;
  • The individual’s belief is by virtue of religious training or other belief system akin to religion; and
  • The individual opposes participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms.


Air Force Instruction 36-3204: Procedures for Applying as a Conscientious Objector. 06 April 2017.


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